Austrian schools reopen with masks, distancing and disinfectants as new routine

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Schools Closed

After closing for seven weeks due to the COVID-19, Austrian schools reopened to graduating classes on Monday, with teachers and students trying to adapt to the new routine of wearing masks, washing hands frequently and keeping social distance.

In many schools, to guarantee social distancing, lessons were not held in the normal classroom, but in the gymnasium – for example in the Goethe Gymnasium, a general high school in Vienna, according to local media.

There, among other things, handrails on the stairs were glued with barrier tape, and strips for distance control were found on the floor. The hygiene rules and instructions for correct movement in the school building were clearly visible at the entrance.

“Today we only had two classes with 48 pupils, and two colleagues agreed to act as hygiene teachers to monitor hand washing,” director Hubert Kopeszki told the Austria Press Agency (APA).

In two weeks it would be much more difficult with the return of the younger students, he said.

From May 15, all pupils in the six to 14 age group will return to school, followed by the remaining pupils from June 3, the government announced in late April.

Apart from the lack of physical space, there is also the problem of personnel bottlenecks. Kopeszki said that 22 percent of the teachers would not be able to show up because they belong to the risk group or have someone to look after at home.

In an interview with the Swiss daily Blick, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that a second coronavirus wave could occur in Austria as a “realistic scenario.”

“The question is whether it will be possible to keep the situation under control, in other words, to limit the contagion regionally and isolate infected people quickly, or whether there will be an exponential increase again,” Kurz told the Blick in a telephone interview on Sunday. “In between there is a full grayscale range that makes a big difference.”

So far, the reopening of stores has not increased the number of infections in the Alpine country, according to the chancellor, as the daily number of new cases reported has still been under 100. Enditem

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